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5 weeks post op left upper lobectomy


LadyRoseBlade

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I should add I’m 68 but physically younger, I have never smoked and the nodule detected on an X-ray for my shoulder. I didn’t have a pet ct for several months due to caring for my elderly dad who died at thanksgiving and two dear friends who died in March and May.  Also had a bout of covid after getting the vaccination.  
I am shocked.  I can’t seem to get past the trauma of the surgery 5 weeks ago.  I’m glad I found this forum and hope I can learn from all of you. 

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LadyRoseBlade,

Welcome here!

Do you have a diagnosis for lung cancer? You've mentioned a x-ray of the shoulder, a delay in getting a PET scan and surgery 5 weeks ago. To help us understand your raspy cough, we'll need details on your diagnosis (type and stage of lung cancer) and details about your surgery.

A lung cancer diagnosis tends to traumatize families and mine were affected. But in my case, the trauma declined as my treatment progressed. After 3 years of treatment, I started accumulating a series of NED (no evidence of disease) scans and now 15 years later, my family forget I had lung cancer. When I was diagnosed, there were not many treatment alternatives, but now so many are in play that many of us start to live near normal lives.

If you are comfortable, let us know the details of your diagnosis and treatment so we can give suggestions on dealing with your raspy cough.

Stay the course.

Tom

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Hi Tom.  It was acinar aedenocarcina.  (Sp?) left upper lobe apex.  Stage 1a  lymph nodes and margins clear. But because pathology showed aggressive and non aggressive cells, she did an entire left upper lobectomy.  She is happy with the results and I have to have a ct scan nov 30th and then every 3-4 months for two years.  Surgery was 9 hours. VATS with a near kidney failure scare on the table. She did a bronchoscope first, attempted a wedge resection then decided on the entire lobe.   I’m wondering if the vagus nerve was damaged causing the cough.  A day in icy then to thoracic floor.  Up and walking in one day.  Two chest tubes. Those are fun. Not.  
I had no symptoms. I went to the Er during a stressful time with my elderly dad for chest pain and they did a chest X-ray of my shoulder (non related) and a small nodule was noted. I was told it was probably scar tissue. Had my physical in April.  AlsO told probably scar tissue. No urgency by any medical Provider.  Had all my records sent to a nearby hospital for 2nd opinion and was told it was likely an air pocket. But get a pt scan.  After all the family crisis we’re over I went into Boston and had a pt scan.  Well, things moved very fast and surgery was performed within two weeks.  Now here I am 5 weeks post op.  Still dazed and weary. No real pain crept a spot in my back. Close to the back incision, but very achy. Coughing hurts.  Breathing is raspy in my upper chest bronchial area.  I did engage a therapist because I knew this would be brutal.  And it is very much a couples disease so husband has a therapist as well.   
so here we are.  Husband is burned out and exhausted.  And I’m coughing 

thanks for being here. It took me awhile to find a support group and this popped up last night

LRB 

 

PS.  NEVER SMOKED BUT EVERYONE  ASKS 

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LRB,

I would suggest a consultation with a pulmonologist for the persistent coughing. I've had the best success with that medical discipline when dealing with coughing during treatment. Especially mention the raspy breathing symptom. In the mean time, try spending time in a steamy shower and let the inhaled steam sooth your pulmonary system. Sometimes that helps.

Stay the course.

Tom

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LRB,

I just want to welcome you to the forums.  I'm glad you found us, but sorry you need to be here.  Tom has given you some pretty good counsel, so please make sure to follow up with a pulmonologist.  Thoracic surgery is a pretty major deal so there can be all kinds of symptoms afterward.  Different aches and pains as well as numbness, constant throat/chest clearing and muscle pains.  I'm not sure what you are doing since you've been home, but it is a good thing to move and help your body recover.  What are your daily activities?  Did anybody give you and post-op instructions on how to get your body strong again?  I can only tell you that the surgery can be taxing, but the better your recovery program the faster the number of post-op symptoms you'll experience.

Lou

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Thanks Lou.  Yes I’ve been active.  I walk about a mile a day and have taken on easy household chores that don’t involve lifting.  We’ll get a warm humidifier for our room.   I don’t have a pulmonologist.  The surgeon has been in touch frequently as well as her NP’s.  
thank you for the kind welcome.  
LRB 

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LRB,

Walking a mile/day is a very good start.  Yes, the pulmonologist will be helpful as he will focus on your breathing and lung capability.  The humidifier is also a good thing to get.  It will help you to clear more effectively and likely reduce some of the irritation.  Please keep us posted as you progress and remember to come back and ask any questions you may have.

Lou

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Hi LRB - Welcome to the forum!  I had an upper left lobectomy in mid-July 2020, and also had a persistent cough after the surgery that went on for months.  It was mostly little naggy annoying kinds of coughs, half-coughs, but sometimes I coughed until I gagged and choked.  Almost anything triggered it - doing the spirometer, the breathing exercises, taking a deep breath, laughing, scents.  It sometimes went on most of the day.  Once I coughed so hard I pulled a groin muscle!  It was driving me bonkers.  The only time I didn't cough was when I was sleeping or reclining.

My pulmonologist had given me a prescription for benzonatate (aka Tessalon Pearls) that I was hesitant to take but finally agreed to when it was explained that the cough was most likely a result of irritation due to the surgery and continuing to cough was irritating it further.  They said the cough medicine would stop the irritation and allow it to heal.  So I started taking it at the end of September.  It helped calm it down fairly quickly and after a few weeks the coughing was under control.  By mid-November it was 90% gone.

So my recommendation would be to see a pulmonologist and discuss whether a cough medicine would help. 💜

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My surgeon mentioned the pearls but my husband had them a few years ago and they didn’t do anything for him.  Maybe I should try them.  The walgreen cough syrup isn’t helping.  
My surgeon and her NP’s have been following me closely and I do wonder if I should engage a pulmonary MD.  My PCP is useless.  

and can I ask, what’s with the crying al the time?  Everything sets me off.  
LRB. 

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LRB none of the OTC stuff worked for me, even my go-to Pei Pa Koa syrup and Fishermen's Friends were ineffective.  Prescription cough syrup with codeine didn't work.  The pearls worked.  I was so so so tired of coughing I was finally willing to try anything.

I had a pulmomologist from the time the nodules were discovered during my colon cancer scanning in 2016, so she was on top of my scans 4 years before the LC dx, and was the one who suggested the biopsy when the 9mm nodule grew to 11mm.  She and my oncologist coordinate my continued care.  (I was stage 1A)  After my second followup visit with the surgeon who did my lobectomy, he pronounced me cured and is no longer involved in my recovery or followup at all.

I also experienced random crying.  I think partly from the emotional hit of having a second cancer, all the challenges of dealing with it during the height of the pandemic, the frustration and physical stress of the coughing, the financial stress and worry...  Also I have a theory that the anesthetic messes with you and takes some time to process out.  I also found my emotions affected the more I compared my recovery to others, thinking I wasn't healing and getting "back to normal" fast enough.  Once the coughing got better it really helped me stabilize my emotions - although there are times to this day when it gets to me.  My dog really helps, looking out at the wildlife and birds in my yard, doing simple routine things that make me feel like I'm making even a little progress, and trying to focus on one thing at a time.

There are online meetups with the group here you may find helpful too.  💜

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